Prayer Can Be Powerful

I want to open my “People of Passion” book and share an excerpt with you. A blurb on the back cover reads, “With stories of old and new, this book chronicles the lives of Native Americans, pioneers and mountaineers in the Great Smoky Mountains. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartrending and always inspirational, these stories represent nearly twenty-five years of research.” This excerpt falls within the humorous category.
Tennessee’s gubernatorial candidates in 1886 were brothers Robert and Alfred Taylor. Democrat Bob always wore a white rose in his lapel and Republican Alf displayed a red rose, earning the race a nickname of “War of the Roses.” It was the epitome of folksy Southern politics as the brothers from the East Tennessee hamlet of Happy Valley traveled together on the campaign trail. To save money, they even shared the same hotel room and bed as they toured.
The campaign was a replay of earlier days in the lives of these brothers. While they were growing up on a mountain farm, the boys debated almost daily over some public question. Neighbors would break away from chores and come from miles around to listen to them “go at it” with one another.
After finishing college in Athens, Tennessee, Alf and Bob entered politics and remained politicians the rest of their lives. Both were talented speakers, had a flair for the dramatic and were exceptional storytellers. Bob was elected governor in the memorable contest and went on to attain the distinction of being governor for three terms, congressman once and then senator. Alf was later elected governor and also became a congressman.
The brothers were astute politicians, but Tennesseans liked to recall their humorous stories, especially Bob’s most famous tale. The story was so popular it became a regular feature on his lecture tours. It is about Brother Bill Patterson, a new minister in a Smoky Mountains community. In his very first sermon, he flatly condemned the devil, sin, whiskey and all kinds of evil a body might get into. He especially condemned, by name, one Bert Lynch. He said Lynch was a moral coward and a brute. This infuriated the bully Lynch and he determined to give Brother Patterson a sound thrashing the next time they met. In a few days they came face-to-face on a mountain trail.
“Parson,” Lynch said grimly, “you had yore turn last Sunday; it’s mine today. Prepare to take yore medicine. I’m a-goin’ to suck the marrow out’n them old bones o’ yourn.” Brother Patterson pleaded with the bully to no avail. Finally, he said, “Well, if nothing but a fight will do you, will you let me kneel down and pray before we fight?” Lynch snapped, “All right, but make it short.”
Brother Patterson knelt down and prayed. “Lord, Thou knowest when I killed Bill Cummings and John Brown and Gerald Smith and Levi Bottles that I did it in self-defense. Thou knowest, O Lord, that when I cut the heart out of young Michael Slinger and strewed the ground with the brains of Paddy Miles that it was forced upon me and I did it with great agony of soul. And now, O Lord, I am about to be forced to put in his coffin this poor, miserable wretch who has attacked me here today. O Lord, have mercy upon his soul and take care of his helpless widow and orphans when he is departed.”
When Brother Patterson arose, whetting the blade of his knife on the sole of his shoe, Bert Lynch was gone, leaving nothing in sight but a little cloud of dust far up the road.
I’m now collecting stories for my second “People of Passion” book. If you have any to share, contact me. Meanwhile, I invite you to join us for the “3rd Annual People of Passion Celebration.” For more information on the event, phone 865-429-5070.
Carl Mays, author of over a dozen books and speaker at over 3,000 events, can be contacted at 865-436-7478 or His books, including A Strategy For Winning, People of Passion, Anatomy Of A Leader, Are We Communicating Yet? and Winning Thoughts, are available in stores, on (PayPal Secure) and


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